In Law Enforcement Careers, are Online Degrees Accepted?

Are online degrees accepted in law enforcement careers / jobs? The simple answer is: YES! But, there’s more…

Why would you ask that question? I know the answer to this one, too… If you are worried, please read the About Criminal Justice Online page — first.

Online colleges and universities, especially those that have traditional presence, are highly sought after by those who are trying to get into law enforcement. Despite the unwarranted stigma online academia gets, there are millions of online students pursuing distance learning to obtain new careers or to advance in one.

The criminal justice field is looking for individuals that are highly educated, and they don’t care if you went to school online or off. Many don’t even care that you obtained an associates or bachelors degree in criminal justice entirely online, as you may have chosen business, computers, education, or arts for your major.

Since most entry level positions require college level education nowadays, you should consider the Internet as a portal that will meet your personal needs. Not everyone has the time to go to a traditional college, so these individuals reach for help into the online world. The results are often better than if they had gone to a regular college or university. It’s true!

If law enforcement is what you want, then graduate level education related to the field is in order, especially for those wanting to advance in their careers:

  • Criminal Justice Online
  • Homeland Security Online
  • International Relations Online

There are outstanding Masters and PhD programs online to meet your needs.

Online degrees don’t say “Online” on them

Some worry that if they go to an online institution to obtain their degree that they will have the inherent stigma of their online experience on their graduation diploma. This is entirely false, for the most part. There are just a handful of schools that may have the word “online” on their diploma, but these are a very rare exception.

You can always ask your online admissions advisor about this issue, and go for it, ask other questions as well.

Don’t listen to the online education naysayers

I know for a fact that the uninformed public tends to diss the distance learning concept. This is because they don’t really know that much about it. They think that online universities are virtual learning centers that offer an easy way to obtain a degree quick.

Well, they are almost right about the latter, but they don’t know or don’t care to acknowledge that:

  • Traditional universities (those with initial brick-and-mortar presence) are the major contenders in the online academia that provide a challenging learning environment.
  • Boston University, Michigan State University, Texas A&M University, Arizona State University, University of Massachusetts, University of Illinois (Urbana & UIC), University of Pennsylvania, University of California and many, many others have online classes, certificate courses, and degree majors – do these ring a bell. I thought so.
  • Ivy League universities like Harvard, Cornell, and Columbia are proud to offer courses, certificate programs, and even degree majors — entirely online.
  • Online education encourages students to actually work harder. I know so through personal experience, but I wasted no time on commute — New York, Chicago, & LA traffic avoided — what would an hour, two, or more / per day, do for you? A lot, right?

The days of misinformation are gone. You can Google or Yahoo virtually anything and find your answer in a matter of seconds. So don’t listen to your disenfranchised source of info, and let your fingers to the walking.

And, yes, you can always ask me a question — via email (contact us — look up) or through your insightful comment. No question is too stupid — so go on and ask away!

Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

4 comments… add one
  • Mike

    My question is, I dropped out of High School and then passed my GED, how much will this hurt me trying to get into a school, online or the norm. brick and mortar type. I’m looking to get into the law end of things but really don’t want to deal with the civil end of things more like working with business’s/ representing business’s I am now finding out how long it takes to do such, and am curious if since I have a GED it will look negitively when it comes to get a job.

    • Radek M. Gadek


      Obtaining your GED is one of the best things you could have done for yourself. Yet, your question presents good points.

      If you had gone through high school and obtained good or excellent grades you would have better chances of getting into some of the best colleges and universities in the country. The GED path could hinder you if you are aiming very high.

      However, if you are applying to most online or campus based schools you should not worry too much. Yes, high school grades are often looked at but you can attach a written statement detailing your troubles in high school and what you did and are going to do to “correct” it. That said, here’s a plan that can help you get into law school after you complete your bachelors.

      1. since you have your GED you can apply to a community college, or an online program, which will allow you to complete your Associates Degree. This would allow you to show your future schools and employers that you are doing great. Then, you can transfer into your junior year of college into a prestigious school (if you want) to finish your Bachelors — total time 2.5 – 4 years (depending if you go online or not).

      2. you can get into a decent bachelor program (even with your GED) and complete it in 2.5 to 4 years.

      After you do step 1 OR 2 you can apply into law school which takes 3 additional years on average. As you may know, without a law degree and a successful completion of the BAR exam you would not be able to represent businesses and consult businesses on legal matters (search my blog for some more info on law schools).

      In all, you don’t have it that bad. Most employers will never look into your high school history if you have an associates, bachelors or a law degree. The most important thing is that you do well in college from the first day to the last. Take this as a new beginning towards a better future. The colleges and universities you see in the sidebar are regionally accredited (very important) and can help you in completing steps 1 or 2. Good luck!

  • Karen

    I’m very glad to have read this im in school online at Ashford University and this was the first school I found that majored me in criminal justice of forensic science. And so far I’m happy I do wonder what direction I will go but I do have a question. In this route can I get into police government agencies etc??

    • Ian

      It depends on the individual agency. I would say that if you showed good grades in online school then there should be no problems. However, on the federal level you may run into some issues. Just do your research and apply to your local agencies, you’ll be fine.

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